August 2, 2019

Ep. 25: David Gruen, Australia’s G20 Sherpa

This episode we are pleased to present another interview with a senior Australian policymaker. Dr. David Gruen is Deputy Secretary, Economic at the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, and Australia’s G20 Sherpa. David is an economist and has previously worked at the Australian Treasury and the Reserve Bank of Australia. The discussion therefore revolves around the economic dimensions of Australia’s place in the world and international affairs generally.

Allan begins the interview with David’s high-profile role as Australia’s G20 Sherpa. What does the Sherpa actually do, and what is David’s assessment of the recent G20 Leaders’ Summit in Osaka? Darren wonders whether the G20’s loose structure represents the most likely model of international cooperation in the 21st century, even if it’s not always effective.

The discussion then pivots to the global economy, where David offers some reflections on what has surprised him over the years, before addressing the specific tensions between the US and China and the question of decoupling. Darren asks for David’s perspective on the domestic sources of hostility to the rules-based order, and the conversation finishes on the topic of “economics versus security” in Australian foreign policy. David offers some novel and interesting insights, and highlights the efforts of his department to integrate advice that is grounded in these different perspectives more effectively into the policymaking process.

As always, we invite our listeners to email us at this address: We welcome feedback, requests and suggestions. You can also contact Darren on twitter @limdarrenj

Our thanks go to AIIA intern Charlie Henshall for his help with audio editing, Rory Stenning for composing our theme music, and Martyn Pearce for technical assistance in studio.

Relevant links

David Gruen, “The G20 at Ten: Past, Progess and Prospects”, Speech at the Lowy Institute, November 2018:

G20 Osaka Leaders’ Statement on Preventing Exploitation of the Internet for Terrorism and Violent Extremism Conducive to Terrorism:

Jonathan Kearns and Philip Lowe, “Australia's Prosperous 2000s: Housing and the Mining Boom”, Research Discussion Paper 2011-07, Reserve Bank of Australia, December 2011:

Philip Tetlock, “Expert political judgment”, Goodreads Overview:

David Gruen, “Collective animosities or cooperation?”, Speech at Symposium discussing ‘Asia’s Response to the Trade War’, Tokyo, December 2018:

Ben Bernanke, “When growth is not enough”, Speech at the European Central Bank Forum, June 2017:

Mark Davis, “Outside the bubble”, Sydney Morning Herald, 19 September 2009:

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